Watch a machine process food and poop, experience being “euthanized,” witness a living, breathing man-as-art display, all brought to you by the mad genius who parks in a space reserved for “God.”
I’m standing next to a poop machine.
It’s a simulated digestive tract, to be exact. A row of tubes and bags are suspended from the ceiling, whirring and churning with inner gastric tract functions. It’s fed at 11:00 am, the machine poops around 2:00 pm, but the overpowering stench of excrement lasts all day. I gag and stumble from the room.
MONA is recognized as a world-class museum that’s considered one of the most eccentric galleries on earth, covering everything from bodily functions to sex to death.
Believe it or not, the Cloaca Professional (2010) – aka the “Poop Machine” – is just one of the many weird and wonderful works of art at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), an art museum in Tasmania that’s been dubbed “a subversive adult Disneyland.” It’s recognized as a world-class museum that’s considered one of the most eccentric galleries on earth, covering everything from bodily functions to sex to death.
“MONA isn’t just a collection of art and objects from ancient to contemporary – it’s also about important ideas,” says Jane Clark, Senior Research Curator at the MONA. “The exhibits at MONA are likely to make you wonder ‘What is art anyway?’ And why has art-making been part of every human culture on earth?”
The fantastical museum is located on a picturesque peninsula outside Hobart and features three subterranean floors of provocative and sometimes disturbing art. There are no placards or sequenced order of the exhibits, unlike “regular” galleries. But being the oddball seems to work in MONA’s favor: since opening in 2011, the museum has drawn more than a million visitorseager to see ancient antiquities to contemporary works from international artists, including Brett Whiteley, Pablo Picasso, and Damien Hirst.
Love it or hate it, the poo machine is a starring attraction. The piece was commissioned by Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye, and it’s met with revulsion and intrigue alike.
“Some visitors hate the idea of an artwork that mimics the human digestive system,” says Clark. “Others find it less provocative than either fascinating or funny.”
There are several versions of the contraption, but all operate under the same concept: the machine is fed daily; and then, enzymes break down the meal over the course of the day, passing it through various tubes and flasks. Eventually, a chunky turd plops onto a tray, spewing a noxious odor into the air.
Love it or hate it, the poo machine is a starring attraction.
There are other whimsical works to see, and I spend an afternoon roaming the cavernous floors to view as much as I can. There are bizarre and disturbing films – one of a sobbing man hacking off his own hands – and a wall of 151 porcelain vulvas, sculpted from real women (and reportedly available in the gift shop in the form of soap replicas). Visitors can sing along with thirty Madonna fans in Candice Breitz’s video installation Queen, or get a simulated experience of being euthanized with My Beautiful Chair. There’s also Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm’s “Fat Car” – a sleek, fire-engine red Porsche bulging with fiberglass and polystyrene.
“This artwork is a real Porsche Carrera convertible, but it’s also a witty visual commentary about having too much stuff,” says Clark.
There’s also “Tattoo Tim” – a live man covered in a colorful tattoo who sits on public display. The artwork, Tim Steiner, allowed artist Wim Delvoye to tattoo the Virgin Mary crowned by a Mexican-style skull onto his back. It took over 40 hours to complete, and when Steiner dies, his skin will be framed and displayed. In the meantime, Tattoo Tim is a living, breathing exhibit.
“Tim became art when a contract was signed in 2008 and a German collector agreed to pay €150,000 with the proceeds shared by Wim (artist), Tim (artwork custodian), and a gallery in Zurich (agent),” says Clark.
Who in the world would create such a gallery of curiosities? It’s the brainchild of David Walsh, a mathematician from Hobart who made his fortune as a professional gambler and allegedly invested more than $200 million to open MONA. It’s no wonder his reserved parking space at MONA is marked “God.”
“David Walsh really built MONA to try to understand himself better, to understand our humanness and, importantly, our failings and limitations,” says Clark. “It’s his own personal experiment – shared with all comers. He actually lives there. So he’s asking you into his home as well as his mind.”
“Visiting MONA may well change your life. You won’t be told what to think – but you’ll have a great time looking; thinking; just coming along for the ride.”
It’s not all contemporary pieces inside his gargantuan gallery. A nod to the old, the dimly-lit halls also include ancient Egyptian pieces, such as mummies and sarcophagi, as well as other artifacts and antiquities. The MONA also hosts two festivals – a summer (January) festival, Mofo, unleashes a mix of music and art, followed by a “Dark Mofo” winter festival in June, that explores “centuries-old winter solstice rituals and celebrates the dark through art, music, food, film, light and noise.”
“There’s not only amazing art from around the world and millennia of history, but also special temporary exhibitions, fabulous food, great wine, music, regular festivals, a market in summer,” says Clark. “Visiting MONA may well change your life. You won’t be told what to think – but you’ll have a great time looking; thinking; just coming along for the ride.”
Art is the journey of the soul….What are your thoughts?
Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone (1936)
The surrealist movement in the 1920s and 30s believed that revolutions begin in dreams. Taking their inspiration partly from the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, they set out to create art from the unconscious. Dalí’s Lobster Telephone is an iconic example of one of their most haunting discoveries, the “surrealist object”, a ready-made thing or combination of things that speaks in some obsessive, inexplicable way to the artist. For Dalí, telephones are sinister messengers from “Beyond” while the lobster is sexual. With a lobster telephone, you can dial up a dream.
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)
The surrealist object lives on, as a shark preserved in formaldehyde and appearing to swim relentlessly through the white space of an art gallery. There is only one word for Damien Hirst’s toothy tiger shark, which gapes as it appears to glide towards you, as this natural history specimen is given the illusion of movement by the refractive perspectives of a glass vitrine: surreal. With its gradual wrinkling and decay, the shark has become even more bizarrely surrealist.
The Colossus of Constantine (4th century)
The gigantic remains of a statue of Emperor Constantine, preserved in Rome’s Capitoline Museum, have haunted the dreams of artists for centuries. In the 18th century, Henry Fuseli portrayed an artist “overwhelmed” by the strange spectacle of Constantine’s enormous marble hand. In the 1950s, artist Robert Rauschenberg photographed his companion Cy Twombly standing by the same gargantuan relics. The sheer scale of this statue dwarfs reason; its fragments are utterly surreal.
Joan Miró, Object (1936)
The Catalan visionary Joan Miró created a quintessential surrealist object when he joined together a pirate’s bizarre hoard, including a parrot, a woman’s stockinged leg, a map, a hat and a swinging ball. His constellation of dream images found in everyday life creates a sense of magic and mystery that opens the mind.
Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram (1955-59)
When Robert Rauschenberg found a stuffed goat while trawling New York dumps and antique shops, he could hardly ignore the sexual charge of its phallic horns and mythological associations: In ancient Greece goat-legged satyrs chased nymphs across the hillsides; in Christian art the devil himself is goatish. Rausenberg completed this work by thrusting the goat through a tyre, as in some cosmic sex act. The result is one of the strangest and most memorable of all readymades.
Méret Oppenheim, My Nurse (1936)
The surrealist Méret Oppenheim had an eye for presenting suggestive stuff from the world around us. She famously, for instance, covered a cup and saucer with fur to create an image of oral pleasure. Sex and food are similarly mingled in My Nurse. Oppenheim presents a pair of white high-heeled shoes, trussed and presented on a silver platter like a delicious meal for a fetishist.
Giorgio de Chirico, The Song of Love (1914)
Arguably, the first surrealist objects appeared in the paintings of melancholy modern spaces and enigmatic relics that Giorgio de Chirico was making on the eve of the first world war. In The Song of Love, a rubber glove hangs incongruously next to a marble head. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire – who coined the word surreal – recorded de Chirico going out and buying this very rubber glove. In other words, it is not just a painted fantasy but also a surreal object from the real world.
Max Klinger, A Glove (1881-1898)
In this astonishing series of late 19th-century prints a man – the artist – sees that a woman has dropped her glove. In a series of increasingly outlandish fantasies he pours his passion and longing for the unknown woman into an intense relationship with her glove. Klinger’s masterpiece proves that many surrealist ideas, including its cult of obsessional objects, were anticipated in the age of fin de siècle decadence.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Bourgeois (1982)
In this beguiling photograph, the suggestively smiling Louis Bourgeois holds a truly surreal object, one of her provocatively carnal sculptures whose phallic form is richly emphasised by Mapplethorpe’s black and white photograph. In her long creative life, Bourgeois directly linked the age of surrealism with our own time. This picture conveys the surreal charge of the woman and her works.
Marcel Duchamp, In Advance of the Broken Arm (1915)
Before the surrealists were possessed by objects they found at Paris flea markets, Marcel Duchamp “selected” his readymades. The difference between a Duchampian readymade and a surrealist object is the difference between Duchamp’s sly irony and Dalí’s ecstatic obsessions. Duchamp’s objects, however, evoke the same irrational forces that were to loom large in surrealism. This 1915 readymade consists of a snow shovel and a title that warns of imminent injury: Whose arm is about to be broken? Is it mine? This shovel is a humorous portent.
“Art is a reflection of the human condition” — Alexander Shundi
We all react to art – its symbols, emotion and beauty. Sometimes, the art speaks to us, and sometimes it seems mysterious.
The Reflectionist exhibitions create a dialogue between the artists and the viewers in order to explore a basic question about art, such as “What is the artist thinking?” This approach enables both the artist and the viewer to reflect on the artistic process and their responses to a work of art, and to share their insights.
Google Reflectionist Art if you want to learn more. Many many artists.
The Reflectionist artists range from beginners to professional with many members having a history together of more than ten years according to the website. The group is part of Arts on the Lake in Kent Lakes, NY, and is inspired by Alexander Shundi’s teaching, and Susan Ferri’s workshops.
The Reflectionists have formed a supportive artistic community that shares information, techniques, encouragement, friendship and fun. I had no idea this community existed. Did you?
I learned recently about a gallery in Dallas Samuel Lynne Galleries that is and embraces reflectionism. Basically it means what we put out we get back, a principle of the Law of Attraction. JD Miller and Phil Romano who both are artist are owners of this gallery.
JD Miller states that the universe mirrors each one in unique way. His goal is to mirror that phenomenon in his multi dimensional works the way he perceives the world. Lots of beautiful works to view online, and to learn about many reflectionist artists.
What do you think ? Did you know about Reflectionist Art?
What creates mysterious circles on the seafloor? No, it’s not aliens of the deep—it’s actually pufferfish hoping to snag a mate, a new study says.
Divers first noticed the 6.5-foot-wide (2-meter-wide) circular structures near Japan‘s Amami-Oshima Island about 20 years ago. But no one knew how these so-called mystery circles were constructed—or what was creating them—until now.
The circles, scientists say, are actually nests created by male pufferfish, which spend about ten days carefully constructing and decorating the structures to woo females. What’s more, this industrious pufferfish is thought to be a new species in the Torquigener genus, according to the study, published July 1 in the journal Scientific Reports.
The male fish, which measures less than 5 inches (13 centimeters) long, first uses his body to create peaks and valleys in the sandy bottom around a central circle of smooth sand. He accomplishes this feat by swimming in toward the center of the circle in a straight line and then back around the center in a circular motion. (Watch a pufferfish video.)
Before the female fish arrive to inspect his handiwork, the male forms irregular patterns in the fine sand particles of the central circle. He also decorates the peaks of the outer portion with shell and coral fragments.
When a potential female partner arrives on the scene, the male stirs up the fine sand in the nest’s inner circle. If she deems the nest, and the male who built it, satisfactory, she lays her eggs in the center of the nest and leaves.
The scientists aren’t sure exactly what the females are looking for when they judge a male’s nest. It could be the central patterns made of fine sand, the decorations on the outside, or the nest’s size or symmetry. (Also see “Help Name This Mystery Fish.”)
But they do know that because the nest-making process is so time-consuming, a larger nest could indicate a stronger or more fit male—both desirable traits to females.
Once the female splits, though, it’s the male who does the parental chores: He remains in the nest until the eggs hatch six days later.
Afterward, the male looks for a nearby spot to start the nest-making process all over again, which is a mystery of its own: Why spend all that time and energy building a brand-new nest? The scientists think it has something to do with the fine sand particles that make up the smooth center of the circles. (Read “Africa’s Mysterious ‘Fairy Circles’ Explained.”)
The males use up all the fine sand within the radius of their nest during a single spawning cycle. To construct another nest, they have to look elsewhere for a site with more fine sand particles.
Now that’s what you call a labor of love.
I had no clue that the pufferfish built these beautiful works of art, did you? I was fascinated.Will never look at this fish the same way.
Have you ever tried to release your emotions by painting or drawing? I have.
Often we cannot express all our emotions into words yet by making art a flood gate can open. In my experience I compare it to a river with many ebbs and flows, yet gratifying what one releases. For me its a release of my inner most feelings as well as my expression of them.
Long after the “emotion” has passed your painting or drawing is a glimpse of that moment or experience.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Q & A W/ ART! VANCOUVER ARTIST
It’s a question that most artists regularly hear, “What inspires you as an Artist?”
Inspiration is a curious idea. The amount of influences that can affect the nature and creativity of an artist’s work is countless, and to pinpoint a true inspiration is difficult, to say the least.
Yet, it is without question that each artist has their own unique set of influences that brings inspiration to their artwork. This range of diversity has led me to creation of this particular Q&A.
Becca Drach: “My art is completely internally driven, it is about my emotions and passions of the moment. I personally think all great art is produced this way… whether if it is an abstract, landscape or figure.”
Dominique Bieger: “What inspires me? Well, an art critic in Milan recently stated, after looking at my art collection: “this is a journey into the human soul embedded in a never ending journey around the globe”. Exploring the human mind and soul inspires me constantly. I am good at observing and studying people. I link those inputs to my impressions from my frequent moves; sometimes it is just the looking into a face and there I have a feeling I want to draw and turn into a mosaic; sometimes it is the memory or an area I used to live or work in, maybe a childhood memory, and another drawing takes place and a new mosaic is being created.”
Serge Dube: “Nothing in the outside world inspires me; I go inside my self and then it come out. I use a lots of the ‘out-there’ elements, the mountain, sea, sky , landscape and other element to express what’s going on inside of me. It is not the other way around; I do not go see other exhibits or museums, I do not surf the internet to see what others do, all of my life I tried to stay with out any influence from the outside world.”
I have posted some of this article as its a question I always receive; What inspires ME, and my painting. My emotions and my enviornment are always present in all my paintings.